Blackmailed and Losing Money, Cattle Farmers Give Up

Sarajevo-based Center for Investigative Reporting interviewed dozens of cattle and pig breeders in Bosnia’s Federation entity who said that slaughterhouse owners would knock down the price they were willing to pay for cattle if farmers asked for a receipt — which they were actually obliged to provide. Slaughterhouse owners can drive prices down because the Federation authorities have not taken steps they could to protect breeders, such as setting minimal purchase prices. The breeders go along with the blackmail because they need vouchers to claim government’s subsidies.

The goal of the subsidy, which is open to all farmers who have met certain requirements and registered for them, is to strengthen local food production and secure stable income and better living standards for local farmers. According to CIN,  the effect is often the opposite.

Some farmers use fictitious receipts to claim government’s money. Many more just give up on breeding because, even with subsidies, they lose money. The government institutions do not keep good records about the state of Federation’s farms, while the oversight of the subsidies is weak. Every year, the Federation’s ministry of agriculture signs off on around KM 14 million in subsidies to farmers for breeding and meat production.

Agricultural subsidies have been misused for years because there are few controls. Before approving subsidies, ministry officials in Federation’s ten cantons are supposed to visit a farm, take minutes of the beginning and the end of the fattening and write down the ID numbers of all cattle tags. In 2010 , the audit office for the Federation government’s institutions  found that these visits were not being done as required by law.

CIN interviewed about 30 veterinarians in the Federation, who agreed that the number of cattle and farmers has significantly dropped.

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